This morning was a bit serendipitous as some of the material in one of my classes seems to link directly back to today’s machinima reading.  I was sitting in 206 (the undergrad Telecom course for which I am an AI) and the material the teacher covered today was treatments.  Treatments are short (2-5 pages) pitches for the production of a film or TV show.  We spent the majority of the class talking about what treatments are and aren’t, and what they should and should not include.

The gist of the lecture was that treatments are supposed to represent the story as it will be experienced by the viewer.  The way the instructor described it was to pretend you were on the phone talking to someone as you were watching the show – the things you would say should be in the treatment.. the highlights of the story, the visual aesthetics, the particularly tense or dramatic moments, etc.

This seems to clearly correspond to the 4th style of reality portrayal as described in Jeff’s paper: presenting reality through structural correspondence to viewers’ phenomenological experience.  Both of these things are about portraying reality as experienced, instead of reality as it “really is”.  The difference being, in the 4th style of reality portrayal we’re talking about reality as reality, whereas with a treatment the “reality” is the film.  We could even try applying the other 3 styles of reality to the idea of film as reality and see what we get (remember, here the ‘reality’ is the film and our ‘portrayal’ is some sort of text description):

[1] Portraying reality as if it had been merely recorded.. this would be some sort of a moment by moment description of the story.  It wouldn’t filter anything out but merely accurately record what happens in the film

[2] Presenting reality in a stylized way to facilitate fantasy and expression.. this would be perhaps taking the bits of the film and changing them to create some different type of expression?  This makes me think of people who write fanfic

[3] Presenting reality by staging it in a clarifying, yet truthful, way.. this would be all the papers we are reading that promise to give us a deeper understanding of a movie.  These papers are staging the reality of the film in a way that gives us access to deeper truths about it.

[4] Presenting reality through structural correspondence to viewers’ phenomenological experience.. as I talked about before, this would be something like a treatment where the text gives an accurate representation of the film as experienced by a viewer.

I’m not quite sure where I’m going with this beyond the interest of the mental exercise.  I do think there is something to be said for the idea of abstracting the notion of “reality” beyond simply the physical reality of the world (as I’m now realizing in Jeff’s paper the ‘reality’ of machinima is the games in which they are created).  This is particularly important in a world with an increasingly sophisticated ‘remix’ culture – so much of content that is produced (I’m specifically talking about stuff like YouTube here) is an appropriation of other content that is accepted, resisted/subverted, or extended as Jeff suggests.  It’s no longer relevant to just talk about reality as the real world as so much of our reality exists in zeros and ones and so much of media production reflects on / appropriates other media.  Very long story short, discussing realism as a style, instead of focusing on the nature of the reality, seems to open the door to a wider and more interesting variety of applications and discussions.

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